Heart Health

Your Heart Questions Answered by the Women’s Heart Center – pt 2

Heart Failure Live Chat 7/25/17Thank you for your patience and for your participation in American Heart Month! We received so many great questions, it took us a while to get through them all. We hope you find our Part 2 answers helpful. Thank you to our Emory Women’s Heart Center experts  Dr. Alexis CutchinsDr. M Carolina GongoraDr. Gina LundbergDr. Susmita Parashar, and Stacy Jaskwhich for answering these submitted questions.

Review Part 1 questions and answers here!

What are the signs of heart disease? Are there any silent signs? 
Signs of heart disease may include the ones we would typically think about:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • palpitations

Some other signs of heart disease that may not be as distinguishable (or considered silent as they are not recognized as a heart problem) could be:

  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • sweating or flushing
  • neck pain
  • jaw pain
  • back pain
  • general fatigue

All symptoms are more suggestive of heart disease when they occur with exertional activity or are triggered by emotional stress.  Some symptoms occur over time and people acclimate to them or shrug them off as “being out of shape” or “going through menopause”.  Progressive symptoms, such as increased shortness of breath with walking up stairs, can be a worrisome change and you should definitely mention to your physician.

How do you know when you have heart disease? 
Bottom line is, you won’t know if you don’t look. Studies have shown that 2/3 of women have no previous symptoms prior to their heart attack. There are many types of heart problems that an individual could have such as an enlarged heart, electrical abnormalities of the heart (arrhythmias) or blood flow issues.  We usually think of heart disease as blood flow issues or blockages that might cause a heart attack. You will likely notice some signs or symptoms in this scenario, but the best way to know for sure is by having a screening or seeing a Cardiologist for testing. Common sense would tell us that the more risk factors that you have for heart disease, the higher the probability.

There are many screening tests which can be performed to give you a better idea of your cardiac status.  You can actually have heart disease for a long period of time prior to having an event.  If you have a strong family history of heart disease or multiple risk factors, it may be a good idea to have a Coronary Calcium Score.  This is a CT of your heart that identifies hard, calcified plaques in your heart arteries.  It really helps to determine if you have the disease and to quantify the amount of disease that is present.  The result will be given in an age-matched reference so that you can see how you are doing in comparison to other women/men in your same age group.  The more plaque you have, the more aggressive your treatment plan should be.  If you are having any type of symptoms, you should have diagnostic testing.  Most people start with a simple EKG, but a treadmill stress test is a better tool.  If the stress test is positive for EKG changes with exercise, further tests may be indicated.

What are the most common kinds of heart troubles? 
In a cardiology practice, we commonly see a multitude of heart problems, many of which are brought about by the risk factors such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • sleep apnea
  • being overweight
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • lifestyle choices

Think of your heart as a house with 3 basic responsibilities: pump, plumbing, and electricity.

  • You can have a pump issue in which your heart muscle is enlarged, thickened or damaged. Consequences of this can result in a condition called congestive heart failure.
  • You can have a plumbing issue in which you have plaque build up that eventually closes your arteries and prevents well-oxygenated blood from reaching your heart muscle. Consequences of this could lead cause a heart attack.
  • You can have an electrical issue in which your heart loses the ability to normally conduct impulses.  These can stem from the upper and lower chambers of the heart and some are more worrisome than others- the most common electrical problem that we see is Atrial fibrillation. Consequences of Atrial fibrillation can lead to blood clots or stroke when the heart beats irregularly and sets up the perfect scenario for a blood clot to form and then be lodged into the systemic circulation.

While all of these consequences seem very frightening, many can be avoided if we prevent risk factors from occurring by maintaining heart-healthy lifestyles in the first place.

By what percentage is the reduction of heart disease changed, as backed by scientific studies, when one makes positive changes.  
It is somewhat difficult to predict because it depends on different variables. Some risk factors are non-modifiable, such as genetics, age, gender, and race.  Of the modifiable risk factors, several studies have highlighted the critical importance of lifestyle modifications in heart disease prevention.  A Nurses’ Health Study demonstrated that women were able to reduce their risk of coronary events by >80% by not smoking, maintaining healthy body weight-BMI< 25, consuming a healthy diet, participating in moderate to vigorous exercise for 30 minutes a day, and consuming no more than a moderate amount of alcohol.

Another study named INTERHEART identified 9 easily measured risk factors (smoking, lipids, hypertension, DM, obesity, diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and psychosocial factors) that account for over 90% of the risk for acute heart attack.  This study also demonstrated that although the magnitude of the cardiovascular risks for men and women were similar, the impact of modifying the risks was greater in women.

What are some natural supplements that keep our hearts healthy?  
Heart health starts with exercise and a healthy diet.  The majority of the diet should come from vegetables, lean protein, low glycemic fruits, and some whole grains while limiting carbs and sugars.  Diet should consist of low sodium and high fiber.  It should include healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil.  Certain foods can be especially helpful for different cardiac problems.  For example, blueberries, leafy greens, seaweed, mushrooms, and celery have been shown to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure.

To further support your heart health, certain supplements may be helpful; however, these should always be recommended by a healthcare provider who has experience and training in the use of supplements. If you have a heart condition or are high risk for a heart attack, you must always follow your doctor’s advice before using any supplement.  Some supplements may interfere with blood thinners. Actually being tested for certain deficiencies prior to taking certain vitamins and minerals, may be the safest practice. It is way too risky to treat a serious health condition on your own with over-the-counter supplements. Some commonly used supplements for the heart are:

  • Omega 3 fish oil
  • flax seed
  • plant sterols
  • CoQ10 enzyme
  • Vitamin D
  • certain B Vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Folate
  • Garlic
  • Magnesium
  • Turmeric

What are the best types of vegetables and fruits to eat when you have blood clots?  
If you have a blood clot, you are likely on a blood thinner.  If you are on Coumadin, you will have to be aware of the vegetables that contain Vitamin K as it acts as an antidote for Coumadin (blocking blood-thinning properties).  Most green, leafy vegetables contain Vitamin K.  This doesn’t mean that you should avoid these vegetables if, on Coumadin, you just have to eat them consistently in order to keep your blood levels of Coumadin therapeutic.  We currently have much better options for blood thinners though (Eliquis, Xarelto, Pradaxa) which work on a different bleeding pathway and don’t interfere with foods that we eat.

Many patients are prescribed an aspirin a day to reduce the risk of blood clotting. The component in aspirin that is responsible for reducing blood clotting risk is called salicylates. Salicylates can also be found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as oranges, blackberries, blueberries, pineapple, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, cranberries, tangerines, hot peppers, olives, radishes, and tomatoes.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that aid in the regulation of normal blood clotting. Most people believe that in order to receive omega-3 fatty acids, they must consume a high a diet that is high in fish. While fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, they can also be found in many vegetables including brussel sprouts, kale, spinach and salad greens.

Vitamin E is also capable of inhibiting platelets (the cells responsible for clotting) that works as a natural anticoagulant. Vitamin E can be found in spinach, broccoli, kiwifruit, mangos, and tomatoes.

Review Part 1 questions and answers here!

To learn more about Emory Healthcare’s Heart and Vascular Center, please visit: www.emoryhealthcare.org/heart

Emory Healthcare welcomes and encourages open discussions on all of Emory Healthcare’s social media sites. We look forward to any comments, stories, interactions, and experiences you want to share online. Before posting, please be mindful that Emory Healthcare’s social media sites are open to the public. DO NOT disclose any personal information that you do not want to be shared. By sending any content over the internet, you acknowledge that you assume full responsibility related to security, privacy, and confidentiality risks. The information presented here is NOT intended to replace a consultation with a qualified medical professional or take place of professional medical care. Due to a large number of questions we received, we are unable to answer all questions. The questions selected above are (in our opinion) of value to all readers.  

Congenital Heart Disease: Staying in Specialty Care Saves Lives

Congenital Heart DiseaseCongenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common type of birth defect, affecting approximately 8 per 1000 births in the US. The severity of these defects ranges from mild defects that don’t require surgery to critical heart defects that require surgery within the first year of a newborn to survive.

Advances in medical and surgical care have significantly improved survival for all CHD, even the most complex, severe defects. As a result of these advances, the majority of children born with a heart defect now survive to adulthood. The number of adults with congenital heart defects exceeds the number of children with CHD.

Despite these childhood successes, many adults with congenital heart disease face late complications, hospitalizations, need for medications, future surgeries, and may die at a younger age than their counterparts without a heart defect. The surgeries that permitted childhood survival often are a repair, rather than a “cure.” For this reason, those born with congenital heart defects require ongoing regular specialty care across the lifespan.

Unfortunately, some patients and their providers have the perception that the heart defect has been “cured.” The gaps in care resulting from this misperception can be harmful. Guidelines recommend that all adults with congenital heart defects stay in regular cardiology care, and those with moderate to complex (more severe defects) should receive care in an Adult Congenital Heart Center.

A recent publication showed that adults with congenital heart defects who receive care in an ACHD specialty center do better than those who receive non-specialty care, or receive no care at all. Those with more severe defects have the most to gain from specialty care. Unfortunately, less than a third of the patients who need this life-saving specialty care actually receive care from an ACHD Center.

So what’s so special about an ACHD center?

  • Practice makes perfect. High-volume specialized centers improve patient outcomes by increasing physician experience, skill, and coordinated specialty teams.
  • Multidisciplinary teams work together to provide optimal care.
  • New and novel interventional and surgical techniques are developed at the centers.
  • Ongoing research gives patients access to cutting-edge treatments.
  • Resources are more readily available in a specialized center.

About the Emory Congenital Heart Center

The Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center is an internationally recognized cardiology service that specializes in the care of adults with congenital heart defects. Emory’s adult congenital heart program is the only adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) program in the state of Georgia and is one of the largest programs in the country. Physicians at Emory’s Adult Congenital Heart Center have additional specialty training, beyond cardiology fellowship, in the diagnosis and management of an adult with congenital heart defects.

Our Physicians

or call: Emory University Hospital at 404-778-5545 & Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital at 404-778-6070

About Dr. Wendy Book

Wendy Book, MD

Wendy Book, MD, is the director of the Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center. She has 15 years of experience in adult congenital heart disease, including clinical and research experience. She has a background in heart failure, transplantation, and pulmonary hypertension, which complement skills of other Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center physicians. She is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular disease, Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology.

 

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Heart Disease and Emory Women’s Heart Center

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. It is also preventable. The Emory Women’s Heart Center is a program dedicated to the screening, prevention and treatment of heart disease in women.

The number of women at risk is startling. “Believe it or not, a very small percentage of women fall into the low risk category for heart disease, and those people are mostly in their twenties,” says Stacy Jaskwhich, a nurse practitioner at Emory’s Johns Creek’s Women’s Heart Center. “When you consider family history, age, diet, activity levels and other existing conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, most women are at some level of risk.”

“Most heart disease is preventable, so we want to reach these women, ideally between the ages of 40-60, to evaluate their individual risks and educate them on risk reduction. Starting treatment early, when it’s necessary, will help save lives,” says Gina Lundberg, MD, clinical director of Emory Women’s Heart Center and assistant professor of medicine, Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Lundberg founded Georgia’s first women’s cardiac prevention program in 1998. She also launched the Emory Saint Joseph’s Heart Center for Women in 2007.

The Emory Women’s Heart Center offers comprehensive cardiac risk assessments and education for women at risk for heart disease. If necessary, the Center can also assist with referrals. Screenings are beneficial to those who have a family history of heart disease or risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, smoking, and/or diabetes. The initial two hour screening includes a review of family history of heart disease and a comprehensive global risk assessment that includes age, blood pressure, total cholesterol level, HDL level, blood glucose, smoking history, pregnancy history, hypertension history, and individualized education based on your risk factors. Screenings can be self-referred and start at $75. Gift certificates are also available to purchase for loved ones.

Women often experience symptoms that are different than those experienced from men. For example, women may not experience chest pain. Because of this, women must understand that heart attack symptoms may be similar to those of panic disorders, muscle strain, indigestion or influenza.

Rapid intervention is most effective in beginning stages of a heart attack. Damage to heart muscle starts within 30 minutes of the onset of symptoms, and according to the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC), 85% of heart damage occurs within the first two hours – sometimes irreversible. Call 911 as soon as the first symptoms of a heart attack appear.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

  • Chest pain or discomfort: It may feel like a squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or fullness.
  • Heaviness or pain in areas other than the chest: This symptom is more common in women. The pain or pressure can be gradual or sudden. It may come and go, gradually intensify, or awaken one from sleep. Areas that are common include the back, neck, jaw or arms.
  • Cold sweats: This symptom can occur without chest discomfort. If there is no obvious reason for sweating, such as exercise or hot flashes, consider contact your physician.
  • Fatigue: Some women may experience an inability to complete routine tasks. This can be due to extreme tiredness or a decrease in energy level.
  • Nausea: This can be mistaken for other problems, such as influenza, heartburn, or stomach ulcers.
  • Shortness of breath: This can occur with minimal activity or with activities that previously did not cause difficulty with breathing. This is especially important for people with diabetes, as they are less likely to experience chest pain.
  • Lightheadedness: This symptom may occur with activity or in conjunction with any of the other symptoms.

 

Heart Health of Football Players Focus of Emory Expert Analysis

football250x250With the start of the American football season fast approaching, the health and wellness of players is top of mind. While most of the focus is on head and orthopedic injuries, heart health is also an important concern for these athletes.

Emory Heart & Vascular Center sports cardiologist and researcher Jonathan Kim, MD, is the author of an online American College of Cardiology (ACC) expert analysis of the heart and vascular health of elite level American football players.

Dr. Kim, an assistant professor of medicine (cardiology) in the Emory University School of Medicine, launched a sports cardiology clinic in 2014, evaluating and treating cardiovascular conditions specific to athletes of all ages and levels.

In the ACC article, entitled “Cardiovascular Issues in Elite American-Style Football Participants,” Dr. Kim examines key research findings over the last two decades related to cardiovascular outcomes and risk factors among these top athletes.

Highlights of Dr. Kim’s analysis include:

  • Although not as heavily publicized [as neurologic issues], long-term adverse cardiovascular outcomes have been demonstrated among retired, professional ASF participants.
  • To date, the compilation of evidence suggests elite-level ASF participants are at higher risk for the development of early hypertension. This risk may be greater among linemen.
  • Efforts aimed at identifying players with increased blood pressure and ensuring close monitoring of those athletes, as well as players deemed at high risk, should be considered.
  • Practitioners and athletic trainers involved in the care of ASF athletes should be aware of pre-hypertensive blood pressures measured during pre-season ASF physical assessments, and consider developing procedures for blood pressure monitoring and follow-up throughout the season.
  • Management strategies may be best focused on preventive measures such as limitations in sodium intake, minimization of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication use, focused overall dietary assessments, and perhaps alterations in training regimens with the inclusion of more aerobic-based exercise.

Dr. Kim emphasizes the need for more research in larger cohorts of football players (including high school players) to confirm current findings and learn more about the causes and exact timeline for these changes.

He has conducted his own published research among ASF participants cited within his analysis, including a 2015 study that found after completing one full season of college football, players demonstrate relatively stiffer arteries, a precursor to hypertension, compared to other non-athletic college students.

“Future studies will help us learn more about the causes of these observed changes – possibly diet, undiagnosed sleep apnea, use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and intense isometric physiology are all potential mechanisms,” he says.

cta-learn-blue

 

What is a Blood Clot?

bloodclot_7-17When you get a cut, blood clotting is your body’s healthy response to stem the bleeding and begin to close the wound so it can heal. But too much of a good thing can cause problems if it happens inside the body and obstructs blood flow through healthy blood vessels. Depending on where the clot (or “thrombus”) occurs and ends up–they can travel in your blood vessels– it can cause serious problems that require medical attention, including stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism (clot in the lungs).

At risk

Unhealthy clotting can be caused or exacerbated by a number of factors, so it’s worth being aware of danger signs if you take certain medications (like oral contraceptives, hormone therapy drugs and some breast cancer medications), have a family history of blood clots or heart problems, smoke, , are pregnant, obese, have high cholesterol or have recently had surgery.

Causes for concern

Here are some red flags that could indicate a problem. You should seek medical assistance if you have swelling, redness, numbness or pain in an arm or leg, or you:

  • feel short of breath;
  • experience chest pain for more than a few minutes;
  • have pain that extends into your arm, back, shoulder or jaw;
  • have sudden severe lightheadedness
  • have numbness in your face, arm, or leg
  • have sudden trouble speaking or understanding others
  • have sudden trouble seeing (e.g., blurred or double vision)
  • have sudden weakness in an arm or a leg

Treatment

Your doctor will need to consider all medications, supplements, and herbs you’re taking, for their potential impact on blood clotting. Your history, a physical exam, blood tests and imaging may all be used to confirm diagnosis. Depending on the location and severity, drugs to dissolve the clot (or keep it from growing larger) or surgery to remove it might be indicated. There are two types of blood thinning drugs you might be prescribed, anticoagulants (such as warfarin) or antiplatelets (such as aspirin). If you have had a stroke or a heart attack, you will also need a cholesterol medication called statin to reduce the chance of a future event.

Prevention 

Keep that blood moving! Maintaining an active, non-smoking lifestyle with regular exercise, healthy weight and diet and low blood pressure could go a long way in preventing risk factors. Try to break up long periods of sitting with breaks to walk around. If you have risk factors, talk with your doctor about habits and/or drugs that can reduce your risk.

About Dr. Jaber
Wissam Jaber, MD is a cardiologist at Emory University Hospital Midtown where he runs the pulmonary embolism treatment program.  He has more than 7 years of experience in interventional cardiology, including treating patients with heart attack and blocked heart arteries.

Is a Daily Aspirin Regimen Right for Me?

DailyAspirin_ 7-8It’s long been considered common knowledge that aspirin reduces the risk of the formation of blood clots, which causes heart attacks and strokes. While it was once used on an occasional basis for fever, or aches and pains, aspirin is now taken daily like a vitamin pill for many. And what’s not to love? It costs two cents a day and has some potential incredible benefits; however, popping aspirin on a daily basis to lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke may not be a good approach for everyone.

Risks

It may seem like it’s not that big of a deal, but taking aspirin when you don’t need to can lead to some potentially serious health problems. When you take aspirin, the level of stomach protection is decreased which tends to cause bleeding. As a result, people who take aspirin regularly will have roughly double the likelihood of having an ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding. An unneeded aspirin regimen can also make your blood too thin, causing problems if you need surgery.

Is it for you?

So how do you decide whether or not a regular, preventive dose of aspirin is right for you? Firstly, for those with coronary heart disease the answer is generally yes, unless there is a personal history of stomach bleeding. For those without coronary heart disease the decision is more complicated and is based on your individual risk of having a heart attack versus your risk of bleeding from aspirin. In this case it is best to consult your cardiologist to help you make an informed decision

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to identify those individuals who most likely don’t need to take aspirin on a daily basis. Generally, healthy people in their 20s to 40s, with no cardiac risk factors and no major risk factors for developing the other diseases aspirin can prevent, should not take aspirin unless advised by a physician. For those with very low risk, the focus should be on a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting enough exercise, eating properly, and getting plenty of sleep. These are all safe alternatives to a daily aspirin regimen.

Less is more

Despite the risks, daily aspirin can be beneficial to certain high-risk people, provided they take the appropriate dosage. If you and your doctor decide you should be taking aspirin daily, you need to evaluate how much is right for you. In the case of aspirin and other NSAIDs, a little goes a long way. The recommended dose for someone who needs to be on an aspirin regimen is 81 milligrams a day.

About Dr. Baer
Jefferson Baer, MD, MPH – https://www.emoryhealthcare.org/physicians/b/baer-jefferson.html – is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Director of Preventive Cardiology at Emory University Hospital Midtown.  Dr. Baer specializes in cardiology and in valvular heart disease. He pursued a degree in medicine from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NC, and his internship in Internal Medicine and his residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA.   He completed his fellowship at the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle WA.

Takeaways from Dr. Lundberg’s Hypertension Chat

Hypertension Live ChatThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, June 23, for our live online chat on “Things You Never Knew About Your Blood Pressure” hosted by Dr. Gina Lundberg of the Emory Women’s Heart Center!

To prevent hypertensive heart disease, it’s important that you consistently keep your blood pressure nice and low. Dr. Lundberg noted that the good news is that 80% of all cardiovascular deaths could be prevented with better lifestyle – healthy eating and exercise – and better blood pressure monitoring, and discussed ways to help you achieve this goal.

If you missed this chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the hypertension chat transcript.

Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Question: Are there any foods I should incorporate into my diet to control high blood pressure?

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: There is no one food you can eat to lower your blood pressure. The best thing you can do is to make a change to your diet as a whole. I’d recommend following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. This diet is very high in fruits and veggies (potassium and magnesium). Potassium correlates to lower blood pressure. You can find more info about the DASH Diet here.

 

Question: Is it normal for my blood pressure and heart to race? I exercise regularly.

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: Yes, when you exercise routinely your heart rate will go up slower but you will still get to a peak heart rate with prolonged exercise. Many people feel their heart is racing with sudden activities such as walking up the stairs, but this is common as there is no warm up prior to the activity.

 

Question: How much does stress really impact blood pressure?

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: Stress can raise your blood pressure and your heart rate from internal release of adrenaline. Some people over-respond to their adrenaline and get dangerously high blood pressures very suddenly. An exercise stress test can simulate stress on the body and help determine if blood pressure is getting dangerously high. Sudden surges in blood pressure can cause stroke or heart attack. Chronic stress can lead to chronically elevated mild to moderate hypertension which can also be dangerous for your eyes, brain, heart, and kidneys.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us live for the chat! If you have additional questions for Dr. Lundberg, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

Things You Never Knew About Your Blood Pressure

blood pressure live chatYou’ve probably heard high blood pressure, or hypertension, called the “silent killer” because it can damage your arteries and organs without you ever realizing something is wrong. Not only can it damage your heart, but it can also cause stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, memory loss, erectile dysfunction, fluid buildup in the lungs and angina.

Join us on Tuesday, June 23, at 12:00 p.m. for a live, interactive web chat about “Things You Never Knew About Your Blood Pressure.” Dr. Gina Lundberg will be available to answer questions and discuss various topics about high blood pressure. For instance, did you know that common over the counter medication can increase your blood pressure? Did you know you can have high blood pressure and never experience any symptoms at all?

During this interactive web chat, you’ll be able to ask questions and get real-time answers from our Emory Healthcare professional.

Register now for our June 23 chat:

Chat Sign Up

About Dr. Lundberg

Gina Lundberg, MDGina Price Lundberg, MD, FACC , is the clinical director of the Emory Women’s Heart Center and a preventive cardiologist with Emory Clinic in East Cobb. Dr. Lundberg is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

She is a national American Heart Association (AHA) spokesperson and was a board member for the Atlanta chapter from 2001 to 2007. Dr. Lundberg was the Honoree for the AHA’s North Fulton/Gwinnett County Heart Ball for 2006. In 2009, she was awarded the Women with Heart Award at the Go Red Luncheon for outstanding dedication to the program. She is also a Circle of Red founding member and Cor Vitae member for the AHA.

She has been interviewed on the subject of heart disease in women by multiple media outlets, including CNN and USA Today. In 2007, Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Dr. Lundberg to the advisory board of the Georgia Department of Women’s Health, where she served until 2011. In 2005, Atlanta Woman magazine awarded Dr. Lundberg the Top 10 Innovator Award for Medicine. In 2008, Atlanta Woman named her one of the Top 25 Professional Women to Watch and the only woman in the field of medicine.

Dr. Lundberg attended the Medical College of Georgia and trained in internal medicine at Atlanta Medical Center (Georgia Baptist). She completed her cardiology fellowship at Rush University in Chicago. She has been in practice in Atlanta since 1994. She is board certified in cardiology and internal medicine and was recertified in both in 2002. Dr. Lundberg has two children and considers motherhood her first and foremost career. Dr. Lundberg has lived most of her life in the metro Atlanta area.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening for, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD, provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessments and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease, as well as a full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease. Call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiac screening and find out if you are at risk for heart disease.

The Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean salmon saladBy now, you’ve likely heard about the Mediterranean Diet. You may have heard it’s good for you, can help you manage your weight and even allows you to enjoy some red wine. But is it true? Can you really enjoy yummy foods and still look and feel great? The answer is – ABSOLUTELY!

The Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle change that helps decrease your risk of cardiovascular events in the future. Research has shown that people who incorporate plenty of produce, fish, whole grains and healthy fats not only weigh less, but also have a decreased risk for heart disease, depression, and dementia.

Because the Mediterranean diet should be a lifestyle choice, it involves the daily consumption of a variety of fruit, vegetables, vegetarian proteins (beans, nuts, legumes), moderate amounts of whole grains (whole wheat breads and pasta, brown rice) and small amounts of red meat. It is important to avoid processed and pre-packaged foods and meals, as they may provide excess fat, sodium and preservatives.

Here is an easy recipe I enjoy making for my family. The leftovers are great for lunch the next day! Feel free to add olives, peppers or any other vegetables of your choosing!

SALMON NICOISE SALAD

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1.5 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • ground pepper

Vinaigrette
Wisk the following ingredients together:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • pinch of salt
  • pepper to taste

Salad

  • Salmon filets (I use ¾ pounds for 3 -4 servings but make a pound if I want more leftovers)
  • ¾ lb fingerling potatoes, boiled
  • large handful green beans, steamed
  • 4 eggs – hard boiled and cut into quarters
  • baby spring mix

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Marinate the salmon for 10-30 minutes.
  • Bake the salmon for 20 minutes (or until desired doneness) on a foil lined pan with marinade poured over the top. The salmon should be cooked through so it can be flaked apart into the salad.
  • Assemble the salad with the baby spring mix on the bottom and the eggs (quartered), green beans, potatoes and flaked salmon on top.

You can dress the entire salad with the vinaigrette or serve the salad and dress after. I reserve portions of spring mix, potatoes, egg, green beans and salmon to assemble in a Tupperware when cool for lunch the next day, and reserve a portion of the vinaigrette in a separate container.

Check out our other heart-healthy recipe ideas!

To discuss your risk factors for heart disease and to learn more ways to help prevent heart disease, please schedule an appointment with the Emory Women’s Heart Center by clicking here or calling HealthConnection at 404-778-7777.

About Dr. Cutchins

Alexis Cutchins, MDAlexis Cutchins, MD is Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Cutchins completed medical school at Emory University School of Medicine before going to New York Presbyterian Hospital for her Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine. She completed an NIH-supported research fellowship in vascular biology and a clinical fellowship in cardiovascular diseases at the University of Virginia in 2012. She has a special interest in heart disease in women in addition to heart disease prevention and risk reduction in cardiology patients.

Dr. Cutchins has published several different articles on adipose tissue distribution and obesity in journals such as Circulation Research, Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology and Stroke and has a special interest in the effects of adipose tissue distribution on the heart.

Dr. Cutchins is board certified in Internal Medicine (2007) and Cardiovascular Diseases (2012). She is a member of several professional organizations including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Cutchins sees patients at Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Emory Saint Joseph’s.

She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, their three daughters and their dog. She loves to cook and ride horses.

Why is Screening for Heart Disease Important?

Cardiovascular ScreeningDid you know that Emory Healthcare offers preventive health and wellness screenings throughout the metro Atlanta area? Our goal is to improve the health of our patients and provide communities greater access to important screening services, as well as the Emory Healthcare Network of physicians and providers.

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to the diagnosis, screening, treatment and prevention of heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned women’s heart specialist Gina Lundberg, MD, provides comprehensive heart screenings for patients at risk for cardiovascular disease as well as a full range of treatment options for those already diagnosed with heart disease.

Why is heart disease screening important?

Screenings are often the best way to identify risk factors that may contribute to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), few people have “ideal risk levels on all screening tests. However, if you do have test results that are less than ideal, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to develop a serious cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, it means you’re in position to begin changing your health in a positive way.”

What does a heart disease screening entail?

Emory Women’s Heart Center offers three screening options which are based on the patient’s needs:

Plan A: ($75) Initial Assessment for All Women
Your initial screening includes a review for any family history of cardiovascular disease and a comprehensive global cardiac risk assessment that includes your age, blood pressure, total cholesterol level, HDL level, smoking history and hypertension history. You will also work directly with a nurse practitioner to develop an individualized plan that helps you reduce your identifed risk factors.

Our comprehensive examination includes:

  •  Body mass index
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol evaluation
  • Depression scale assessment
  • Fasting blood sugar test
  • Exercise recommendations
  • Physical exam
  • Pregnancy history
  • Sleep evaluation
  • Waist circumference
  • Weight consultation

Plan B: ($100) Women with Intermediate Risk, Hypertension or Diabetes Mellitus

  • Ankle brachial index (ABI) – Screening for circulation abnormalities in the lower extremities
  • Echocardiogram – Test to evaluate the structural aspects of the heart
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) – Test to evaluate the electrical conduction of the heart
  • Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) – Blood test to determine diabetes risk
  • Microalbuminuria – Urine test to screen for early kidney disease

Plan C: ($100) Women with Intermediate Risk or Diabetes Mellitus

  • Calcium score – Computed tomography (CT) of the coronary arteries to help determine risk for coronary disease or blockage

The AHA recommends that cardiovascular screening start at age 20. Use your screening as an opportunity to take charge of your health, modify unhealthy behaviors and have a positive impact on your life. To request an appointment with the Emory Women’s Heart Center, please call 404-778-7777 or click here.